Lead Scientist / Senior Scientist, Polymer-Organic Chemist

Zymergen 4.0 – Emeryville, CA

Job Description

Founded in 2013 and based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Zymergen is a technology company unlocking the power of biology. We deliver better economics for products made from biology that are used across industries, bring new products to market faster, and develop novel products. Our proprietary platform uses robots and machine learning to engineer microbes faster, more predictably, and to a level of performance previously unattainable. These microbes, and the products they produce, have broad applications across industries such as chemicals and materials, agriculture, and healthcare. For more information visit www.zymergen.com.

Job Description

Zymergen is looking for a scientist with training and experience in polymer synthesis and small molecule organic transformations to lead our synthesis team within the discovery research group. The Lead Scientist role will support the Products team by overseeing internal chemistry activities, engaging external research contractors, and interacting with our externally facing business and application development team, all toward driving new and ongoing materials development. The ideal candidate has a strong technical background in polymer chemistry with experience leading materials R&D projects and line management for chemical synthesis.

Immediate Activities Include
  • Lead the development of materials R&D directions from a synthesis perspective
  • Develop and implement a continuing hiring plan for the synthesis team
  • Lead lab setup and expansion and internal chemistry R&D activities
Responsibilities and Deliverables
  • Lead our expanding chemistry team and assist in the management of materials R&D subcontractors. The Lead Scientist will work alongside other members of the Products team to drive the selection of molecules and chemistries to be employed, and the evaluation of chemistry and property testing results. This will include oversight of research activities and directions, reporting, and may include participation in outreach to potential industrial customers.
  • Lead the opening of our new chemical synthesis and purification's lab, and the ongoing expansion of our synthesis team. The Senior Scientist will engage with current chemistry and facilities staff in lab setup, safety procedures, and initiation of use of this lab. This work will also include overseeing (and conducting) polymer and small molecule organic synthesis, as well as ongoing planning for expansion of our labs in the future, and will include hiring and managing junior staff.
  • Develop new project ideas in order to address new product opportunities. This work will involve identifying and building relationships between molecule structure and materials properties. The Lead Scientist will work both independently and with team members to find and extract information from scientific literature and patents to expand existing, and drive new, materials development efforts.
Qualifications and Experience

We are looking for candidates with the following credentials:
  • PhD in Polymer Chemistry (or related field), with 10 years post graduate industrial experience in polymer synthesis, organic synthesis and chemical characterization.
  • Broad knowledge in polymer chemistry, characterization and property analysis
  • Background in organic chemistry and small molecule analytics
  • Experience in application testing a plus
  • Experience building and managing a technical team
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Strong technical writing skills
Our facility is located in the San Francisco bay area.

Zymergen Reviews

4.0
StarStarStarStarStar
Rating TrendsRating Trends
Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Chief Executive Officer Joshua Hoffman
Joshua Hoffman
4 Ratings
    1. "Loving it so far!"

      StarStarStarStarStar
      • Work/Life Balance
      • Culture & Values
      • Career Opportunities
      • Comp & Benefits
      • Senior Management
      Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
      Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
      Recommends
      Positive Outlook
      Approves of CEO

      I have been working at Zymergen full-time

      Pros

      Energised work force and leadership.
      Transparent culture.
      Resources are available when justified by business.

      Cons

      Lots to do and not always enough people to do it.

      Advice to Management

      Ensure we keep an eye on today's deliverables while chasing new market opportunities.


    2. Helpful (7)

      "Low morale"

      StarStarStarStarStar
      • Work/Life Balance
      • Culture & Values
      • Career Opportunities
      • Comp & Benefits
      • Senior Management
      Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
      Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
      Doesn't Recommend
      Neutral Outlook
      No opinion of CEO

      I have been working at Zymergen full-time

      Pros

      Good company vision. Exciting technology and future.

      Cons

      I feel like a hamster in a wheel.

      I don’t have the basic tools to do my job.

      I don’t have a voice in the company.

      I’m just an employee who wants to my job correctly and support the company succeed and innovate.

      - I can’t do that when I don’t have rudimentary tools to execute in my job function.

      - I can’t do that when departments don’t communicate with each other and don’t trust each other.

      Management is too busy covering for themselves instead of representing, growing, and nurturing direct reports. They don’t listen when request for equipment and don’t want to cause any waves.

      Advice to Management

      Departments need to get on the same page.

      Company needs to figure out its values. Focusing on vision and mission is great, but by looking ahead, you’re missing the dumpster fire that’s starting in front of you.

      Growth opportunities are limited and what growth there is, isn’t defined, written anywhere, or established. What do I need to do to get promoted? Nothing is defined and as a result, some departments whose managers care can grow and find satisfaction while other departments see turnover and remain stunted. Harmonize these practices. Salary ranges for grade-levels aren’t posted anywhere so there is no transparency on how you’re paid.

      Supervisors and managers need people training and management training and need to be better evaluated.

      as far as the other negative review on here: anyone with eyes and ears can see some departments aren’t treated well. The complaints aren’t startup growing pains. I’ve worked in startups. These are management and priority pains. Figure out if you want to maintain non R&D departments and finance them and give them a voice, or outsource and contract those departments and cut the cord. Keeping these departments but treating them like garbage is the worst of both worlds. And what was HR thinking with their move to eliminate Benefits for a select group? Giving them some employees benefits then stripping them away selectively is poor practice. If you take away unlimited PTO from some people, take it away from ALL people, or better yet, eat the cost of your mess up. It was a gross mistake on HRs part and the lowest paid, lowest valued employees suffer for it.


    3. Helpful (10)

      "Oligarchy culture will turn this place toxic"

      StarStarStarStarStar
      • Work/Life Balance
      • Culture & Values
      • Career Opportunities
      • Comp & Benefits
      • Senior Management
      Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Emeryville, CA
      Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Emeryville, CA
      Doesn't Recommend
      Positive Outlook
      No opinion of CEO

      I have been working at Zymergen full-time (More than a year)

      Pros

      Company has a good vision. I imagine it'd be an exciting place to work if you're in the department with resources and not in the department that's spit on.

      Cons

      Sure, the company's new, but old enough to already sow the seeds of a toxic environment. Forget about having the basics to perform your job, or even basic respect, if you aren't in research.

      The attitude that if a Scientist asks you to jump off the bridge, your response must be, "golden gate or bay bridge?" comes from the executive level, so I don't see this culture changing.

      REF has had half a dozen reported injuries and probably another 6 that haven't been reported, because nothing comes from them. Nobody cares. No changes have been made. A stupid safety powerpoint at all hands doesn't cut it as a response to all of our injuries.

      ALL software is designed for scientists. Any software implemented in Lab Ops only makes our jobs harder/ more complicated/ adds redundancies. We've asked for software support and have basically been laughed at.

      I hear others have been hired to do a job function, but aren't given the tools they need to do their jobs.

      Let's not mention that an RA I has the SAME BACKGROUND/ JOB REQUIREMENTS as a Tech I (bio degree, lab experience), but one is exempt with unlimited vacation while the other is not with a WAAAY lower salary.

      We aren't learning anything in our positions and have no room grow.

      Advice to Management

      Treat all employees with respect.

      Scientists and RAs treat us like garbage, upper management has unrealistic expectations from us. We get zero resources to do our jobs.

      We've had injuries on the job that aren't taken seriously.

      Middle management has no real experience and does nothing but bow obsequiously to scientists and executives, to the detriment of their direct reports. People that try to fight for us are canned or quit.

      Nobody cares about us.

      If you have the guts and care about changing the culture, give a REF survey to hear how people feel. You probably won't like what you hear.

      Or let the toxic culture continue to ferment.

    See All 15 Reviews